…WHERE NO TUNNEL DWELLER HAS GONE BEFORE
by PearlAnn SnowStar
Catherine was back in her old apartment, in the bedroom, standing in front of her mirror. She looked at the mature woman staring back at her, dressed in a navy-blue Star Trek uniform. It was a turtle-neck tunic which had a silver logo on top of the left shoulder, and straight pants – that went over black short-heeled boots. This was a mistake. But she had agreed to do this.
She remembered all the events that had taken place earlier. How she and Vincent were concerned when their three teen-aged children did not show up for breakfast. But then who did show up? Devin, who loudly mentioned to all in the Dining Chamber that Jake, Caroline, and Charles had an early breakfast with Aaron, William’s son, and mentioned to him that they were going to take a journey to a special place.
Everyone, Catherine included, thought it was to explore the tunnels Below. Devin had mentioned they were not going to go anyplace that was not reasonably safe.
Lunch came, no children. Devin told Catherine and Vincent that he would have a private discussion with them in their chamber. There, Devin explained that the children had found a way to get tickets to something called a Star Trek convention at a hotel that was close to where Catherine’s old apartment was, not the brownstone that she and Vincent now used to make it easier for Vincent and Catherine to have private moments of time alone and when Catherine had to go Up Top for the occasional legal assignments from Joe. The latter were nothing dangerous as they only involved family law cases.
She was glad she had kept the old apartment. It was another good place, besides the brownstone, where children from Below could go Up Top and stay there as they attended various colleges or had to meet someone who was not a Helper.
Devin explained that the teens had planned this for months and asked for his help, which he agreed to give them, then asked Vincent and her to wait until he got Samantha and Kipper. When asked why, he said that they were also involved.
As she and Vincent waited, they talked about their concerns over this. Why didn’t the children come to them first about their ideas? How did they pay for this?
Then Samantha and Kipper, each carrying a bag of clothing in one hand, walked into the chamber with Devin following behind. What was going on?
Devin mentioned he had extra tickets, which he gave to Samantha. That was so they could sign in and get their badges to enter the convention and roam around to look for the teens.
Samantha then grabbed Catherine and rushed her Up Top, explaining on the way that it was best that Catherine get dressed up there to avoid any questions about the costumes. And it was to prevent Catherine from getting distracted by requests for assistance for something.
Catherine was concerned about the other children Below, as part of her duties were to assist Lena and Grace to help Mary watch over them. Because of Mary’s advanced age, she had started to let others assist her with caring for the children. Catherine also helped Mary out with other tasks as needed.
Samantha kept reminding Catherine it was just like when she occasionally went Up Top for any legal cases that Joe requested help with. Someone Below always stepped up to assist when Catherine was not available.
Samantha also said that Aaron would watch Father for Vincent. And that others would be able to assist with the other tasks Vincent took on. Catherine would have loved to have stayed in the chamber as Devin tried to convince Vincent to go Up Top. Would he have even been able to convince Vincent to do so?
She heard a knock at the front door.
Samantha called out to her. “It’s Kipper, are you ready?”
“Yes.” Catherine was eager to get this over with.
She walked out of the bedroom and saw Samantha and Kipper. Both of those young adults were dressed in the same type of Star Trek uniform, only Samantha’s was yellow and Kipper’s was green.
“Samantha, Kipper, aren’t we too old to play dress-up?” Catherine said nervously.
“Nonsense.” Both spoke at the same time.
“Look,” Samantha said, “let’s not forget that Vincent and you missed the last three Halloween date nights in a row. You both keep missing having time for each other. Now is the time. Don’t worry about Jake, Caroline, and Charles. They will be fine.”
“Wait until you have teenagers, young lady,” Catherine said. “Plus, with Father getting older and Vincent taking over leadership of the Council, the Community, as well as other duties….”
“No excuses now,” Kipper said. “It has all been taken care of. And don’t worry about Father.”
“This whimsy is so dangerous. I wonder who put this idea into their heads?” Catherine questioned.
“They were the only ones, at first, who planned this.” Samantha grinned. “And they were careful how they executed it and who to ask for help with it.”
The three of them made their way out of the apartment to the elevator.
The children had kept this a secret and did not discuss this insane plan with Vincent and her. Did they not know that something could happen to endanger not only them, but also Vincent and her? Catherine felt her temper rising. This was too risky. She was also mad at herself for not knowing something was up. Was Vincent involved? He had the Bond and should have realized something was going on with them. Or was Vincent like her, too busy with the many tasks of life to notice?
Charles and Vincent, father and son, looked so much alike. They could be in danger going Up Top, being seen by others. Catherine prayed that nothing would happen to them or to Jake or Caroline. God help anyone who even touched them!
The elevator finally came and all three got on quietly. Catherine was resolute in bringing those teens back home. She was going to ground them for a long time, hoping that would make them never think up something like this ever again.
* * *
Vincent could feel Catherine’s worry, fear, anger, and concern. Her emotions were all over the place. He was also not happy agreeing with everyone to go Up Top. Plus, Devin insisted he change into the brown tunic and pants he had for him. Devin also changed into a Star Trek uniform that was a blue turtleneck with a silver logo on the shoulder and blue pants over black boots.
Samantha had quickly rushed Catherine out of their chamber. Then Kipper ran out saying he would go Up Top and meet Catherine and Samantha at her place. How had he missed this? The past few months were so busy, but he should have known something was going on. Was Catherine involved? She could hold things back from the Bond, as she had done in the past.
He also remembered how dangerous Up Top was, especially for him and his son, Charles. Charles looked like him and had accepted that Below was the safest place for him to be.
Father. Devin told him that Aaron will watch over Father, as there were so many things that needed to be done for the older man, but that everyone would pitch in to help.
“Vincent, you are dressed?” Devin said. “Let’s go before we get stopped.”
Vincent reached for his cloak and put it on. He then put the hood up. Devin grabbed his arm and led him quickly away from his chamber and down the passageways to Up Top.
He and Devin did not speak as they made their way to the threshold under Catherine’s old apartment. His heart started to beat quickly. So many memories.
Devin broke the silence. “I said we will meet Catherine, Samantha and Kipper but did not say if it would be at the hotel or here. I think here will be fine, then we all can walk the few blocks to the hotel.”
“Devin,” there was concern in Vincent’s voice, ”would that not be too dangerous?”
“No, not really. Most people know there is a convention going on in town, and if they do not know about the convention, we will give them a brief explanation. No one will bother us.” Devin looked at Vincent. “Think of this as another one of the many games we played when we were young.”
“And that Father took you to task about, for endangering me, as well as others.” Vincent recalled those times as if they had just happened yesterday. “When we got back, Father was always waiting…”
“To scold us, punish us, hoping we learned our lesson.” Devin smiled.
“This is not Halloween, Devin, this is summer, a hot sunny summer day.”
“You were the one who put the cloak over the outfit,” Devin said. “I rarely get to see you Up Top enjoying the sun. I remembered a long time ago, it was Valentine’s Day, the first Valentine’s Day weekend that I and some others got Catherine and you to that special cabin by the lake. Then you two continued to go to that cabin every now and then.”
Vincent looked at Devin. “I remember that time. It was after Jacob was born and Catherine and I had settled into our new routines. Catherine limited her time Up Top and moved into the brownstone. You had returned to our Community, letting us know that Charles was doing well and that both of you met a new friend who would watch over Charles, as you wanted to see how Catherine and I were doing. You also wanted to check in on Father and the others. It was a few days before that special day. You managed to have Mouse, Kipper and Michael assist you with getting us Up Top and to that cabin for not only that day, but the next. It was a wonderful weekend.” Vincent smiled. “Caroline was conceived that weekend.”
Devin poked Vincent in the ribs with his elbow. There was a big smile on his face. “Well, who knows what will happen now?”
Vincent felt Catherine was close by. “Catherine is coming down to meet us here.”
Devin sighed. “She will most likely choose to continue to take the underground passageways and get as close as possible to the hotel. I’ll make a bet with you that she will not guide you up and out of her building.”
“Devin, it is the safest and wisest. I should not be doing this,” Vincent said.
Vincent turned and saw Catherine dressed and looking so commanding, yet so beautiful. Catherine saw Vincent and walked up to him. Vincent took her into his arms. They hugged each other tightly.
“You have not met me at this spot in many years,” Catherine whispered.
All Vincent could do was nod. Catherine was glowing. He felt her calming down.
“OK, lovebirds, shall we go up and walk the streets to the hotel?” Devin asked.
“No,” Catherine said firmly, “we’ll go through the passageways and get as close to the hotel as we can. We are not taking any more chances than we have to.”
Catherine let go of Vincent and turned and looked at Devin. “And if any harm comes…”
“Catherine, it will be all right,” Vincent reassured her. Catherine took his hand.
“Follow me folks,” Devin said with a devilish grin and winked at Kipper and Samantha.
* * *
They had made their way to a basement in a building as close as possible to the hotel. Catherine was worried. As they made their way to the alley next to the hotel, Vincent reached up to cover his face even more, when Devin stopped him.
“Come on, let the hood down,” Devin said. “I understand your concern, but trust me, it will be OK.”
Before Catherine could say anything, Vincent put his hood down. The sun shined on his hair, which was blond with a few white streaks. Vincent looked like a sun god. She started to smile. She saw Vincent close his eyes. He was savoring the moment. A perfect moment. Catherine thought about the last time they went to the lake many years ago. Vincent also enjoyed that moment and treasured it.
They continued onwards and got to the hotel entrance. Catherine looked at the crowd. Some in costume, some not. She took a quick look at Vincent. He looked like a child in a candy store. She could sense his amazement and wonder.
Walking with the crowd into the hotel, Catherine was amazed. Were people this obsessed about a show?
“Wookie,” someone said in an ominous tone.
Catherine turned, but did not see who said that. She took Vincent’s hand.
“Cathy, it’s OK, some of these fans have a war with Star Wars fans and vice versa.” Devin said.
“Devin! Some of those people could be dangerous,” Catherine spoke up.
“Not really, it won’t get that bad,“ Kipper said.
“Yes, Admiral Catherine, it will be fine,” Samantha said, grinning.
Vincent reached out and gave Catherine a hug. “Catherine. We are with our family, we are safe. I also sensed that our children are happy and excited. They are not afraid, nor should we be.”
Catherine wished she could be assured of that. Vincent was in awe and was starting to enjoy himself. She resolved to do so as well. Even though this whole situation was crazy.
“Look, the Wookie is getting it on with the Admiral. See, we can get along!” Vincent, Kipper, Devin, Samantha, and Catherine turned to face the woman who had spoken. Her skin was painted blue and there were blue antennas on her head. She was wearing a black thin-strapped shirt that had a vee-neck that plunged almost to her waist. Her spandex pants were also black, and she wore knee-high boots that had thin high heels.
“Yes, baby, and so should we.” The man who spoke walked up to the blue lady and grabbed her
by the waist. His outfit looked so scary. “Besides, Wookies are dogs, this is a cat, like the other cat.”
“Klingon,” Devin whispered to Catherine, noticing how intensely she looked at the man.
Catherine ignored what Devin said to her and quickly asked, “Other cat?”
“Yes,” the man said. “He and some other kids went into a writers’ panel. I came back for my sweet Andorian. I am just dizzy over her.”
Catherine quickly turned and looked at Devin, Vincent, Samantha, and Kipper. “We’ve got to get in and get them home.”
“Yes, Admiral Catherine.” Devin, Kipper and Samantha spoke at the same time.
Catherine looked at Vincent, who just started to laugh. Well, someone is amused. Catherine just shook her head. “Let’s get in, get the badges, get the children and go home.” This was way too much. The unexpected could happen. She was also upset with Jacob, as he was the eldest and should have been more responsible. He should have realized the danger to his family. Plus, he was about to go to college next year. The money spent for this foolishness could have gone into his college fund. Jacob Charles Wells, wait until we get home.
* * *
What a day. Vincent could not keep from smiling. There was so much at the convention to see and do. Plus, he picked up a few magazines, which others called fanzines. Devin, Kipper and Samantha spread out among the many rooms as he and Catherine looked at the sights and sounds. There was even music. Some lady was playing a xylophone. He had never heard that piece of music before, so he asked her about it. She explained she was playing the theme song for the TV show.
They found their children attending the art panel in one of the rooms. He felt Catherine’s fury as well as relief. He knew she wanted to scold them right then, but she controlled herself. He, too, was relieved and just a little angry at their recklessness. But he had to admit, he was also enjoying himself. He felt his children’s happiness, as well as their fear of what awaited them at home. The children explained that they wanted to not only do this for themselves, but also to get their parents to have a chance to be alone, enjoying new things, which they had not done for years. They apologized for scaring them but assured them that no one was in danger. Charles even mentioned that this was another chance for him to go Up Top without fearing for his life. They reassured their parents over and over again that they wanted them to enjoy the moment.
Somehow, Kipper, Samantha, and Devin found them as the children were begging to enter Charles, as well as Vincent, in the Costume/Cosplay Competition coming up at 6pm. With Devin urging Vincent to go for it, he agreed. Catherine kept silent. Vincent felt she was not pleased with this idea, but he felt his son, Charles, was excited about the prospect.
Vincent was amazed at all the costumes at the Competition. When it was time for Vincent and Charles to go on stage for their category, Best Original Costume/New Species, Vincent noticed that the largest crowd reaction was for his and Charles’s “costumes” – the way so many women clapped and cheered for them was even a bit embarrassing. Vincent decided they could not stay for the announcement of the winners. But they really needed to get back to the Tunnels.
* * *
Vincent chuckled. He looked around his chamber. Two tote bags of fanzines and music CDs were by the chair.
Catherine came in wearing a blue robe. “Vincent, it’s late.”
Vincent nodded and went over to her. “Admiral, shall we continue with our negotiations?” He kissed her passionately.
She blushed. “Vincent, let me close our door.”
Vincent went over to the door. On the outer doorknob, he placed the door handle sign that said “do-not-disturb.” Then he closed the door. He sensed that she was not ready to settle down and sleep.
“Well, now that the children are going to have to take over our duties for the next week as well as be grounded for a month, what are we going to do?” Catherine asked.
Vincent walked over to her and, holding her said, “Sleep in. Enjoy our moments together.” He smiled, and with a twinkle in his eye said, “I enjoyed the day, even if it was terrifying at first. And I enjoyed having ice cream with you in the hotel’s atrium. The sun, the sights, everything was amazing.”
Catherine looked at him. “They could have gotten us to the lake or somewhere else that was safer. This adventurous plan of theirs could have ended unhappily. And then they planned this without letting us know about their plans! Only Devin, Samantha, and Kipper knew.”
“Don’t forget Mouse, too.” Vincent laughed. “He did not dress in a costume, but was having so much fun. It was surprising to see him there.”
“Teresa was not upset that Mouse went Up Top without telling her.” Catherine started to smile.
“She is the perfect wife for him. Really understanding about his many quirks.”
“And you are my perfect wife, too,” Vincent said. “My only concern is that Mouse bought plans on the construction of a certain starship.”
“Oh God, Vincent, let’s hope he won’t try to build a starship in the Tunnels!”
Vincent lightly roared, then laughed. He hoped that Mouse would realize that that was not something to do here. But then again…
He felt Catherine finally relaxing and smiled. She was calming down. “Catherine, we do have to thank them for this wonderful day. We had gotten too set in our routines.”
Catherine sighed. “After a few months. The children are going to have to realize that there are consequences for their actions. And in a way, so too, Kipper, Samantha, and Devin.” She looked at him. “You know that Devin will be leaving soon. He needs to get back to Charles.”
“Yes,” he said sadly. “I will miss him, yet he helped make this an interesting day and I know we are tired, but I won’t be able to fall asleep right away.” Vincent reached out and pulled Catherine into his arms.
She giggled. “Finding Mouse was the icing on the cake. Such an elaborate scheme. Our children!” She laughed. “And you and Charles on that stage during the costume show. You weren’t shy at all!” She became serious. “Those women screaming at you, such a frenzy.”
“Catherine, were you jealous?” Vincent teased.
“Me?” She looked up at him. “No…not for one instant.”
He kissed her lightly on the lips.
“All right, maybe a little bit.” She looked at him. “Remember, you are mine.”
“I know that.” Vincent grinned. “Did you notice that Mouse did not come Below with us, but came down about an hour or two later?”
“I noticed. As if he knew we had to tell Father and the others what happened and that we had to impress the seriousness of this excursion on our children.” Catherine sighed. “Wait until he has children. Speaking of Mouse, he was talking to you just a while ago in the passageway. What did he say?”
“He wanted to let me know he stayed until they announced the winners of each Costume Category.” Vincent boasted, “I won for Best Original Costume/New Species. Charles came in second.”
Catherine gave him a gentle push away from her. “So now you are going to brag?”
Vincent had an impish look on his face. He noticed the zipper on her robe and started to pull it down.
Catherine looked quizzically at him. “Vincent?”
“I want to boldly go where I haven’t gone before for quite a while.”
He felt her getting amorous. “So that is how it is going to be tonight?” she whispered.
“Yes, Admiral, I think we should start exploring new possibilities between our species.” Vincent grinned.
Catherine started undressing him. “Why, Vincent, I am so glad you are interested in joining Starfleet.”
“Yes, Admiral…I would like to see us starting a new alliance.”
Yes, the day turned out to be quite an adventure in many ways.